National Award-winning actor Ayushmann Khurrana has opened up on comparisons his upcoming film "Bala" has drawn with "Ujda Chaman", and the subsequent controversy that has erupted, saying "we shot our film first, announced our film first".
While "Ujda Chaman" is an official remake of the Kannada film "Ondu Motteya Kathe", Ayushmann insists that once his film releases, the audience will realise the story of "Bala" is original.
"We shot our film first, announced our film first. There's just one line which is similar, otherwise it's a different film. I've seen the South Indian film (on which 'Ujda Chaman' is based) after we completed the shoot. Once you see the film you'll realise (the difference)," said Ayushmann.
For those who came in late, the problem arose because both the comedies have protagonists who are young men suffering from premature balding. Ayushmann, however, says his film is not just about the woes of premature balding.
"It ("Bala") isn't about just receding hair or baldness. It is about loving and discovering yourself, more than anything else," he explained.
Things got complicated when the makers of "Bala" confirmed the release date of their film was November 8, the same as "Ujda Chaman". Subsequently, "Ujda Chaman" has been preponed to November 1, even as the makers of the film have dragged the "Bala" producers to court.
The makers of "Ujda Chaman" have released a poster that reads: "Takle ki pehli aur original film (the first and original film of the baldie)", indicating that the film will open before "Bala" and also that their film happened first.
Ayushmann retorts saying that referring to a bald man as "takla" is derogatory.
"The word takla is quite derogatory. It's not celebrating self-love," he said.
Ayushmann says playing a man who suffers from alopecia, and how the disease affects his confidence, made him more empathetic towards people.
"I've ventured into farfetched territories like sperm donation (in "Vicky Donor") and erectile dysfunction ("Shubh Mangal Saavdhan"). This was the most common one. It's just the empathy I thought about. I've met both kinds of people -- those who are bothered by it and those who don't care about it," said the actor.
"The idea is to highlight the fact that you shouldn't be bothered about it," he says, adding: "That, in a nutshell, is the message of our film."
"Bala" is directed by Amar Kaushik, who earlier made "Stree", and the film features Yami Gautam, Bhumi Pednekar and Saurabh Shukla among others.
With "Bala" releasing a week after "Ujda Chaman", is he worried that business could be affected? "It happened with the Bhagat Singh films, also. The film which is good will do well. I'm really confident about our film. It's a beautiful film and one of the best scripts I've ever read. Anybody can come up with the same idea," said Ayushmann.